Getting Started With the Pickslanting Primer

The Pickslanting Primer is our instructional overview of common pickslanting playing styles. It’s like a survey course of core mechanical concepts and famous picking techniques.

We’ve designed the Primer so that you can go through all the sections, in order.

We start with fundamentals about picks, grip, and motions, and work our way up to practical explorations of the “big three” categories of picking techniques: downward pickslanting, upward pickslanting, and two-way pickslanting.

Picks & Grip

Very soon we’ll be adding a section about pick design and function — all kinds of information about the evolution of picks, their shapes and material qualities, and how these impact tone and picking mechanics. [COMING SOON!]

Next up, learn about all the factors involved with actually holding the pick, from contact points to orientation — factors that prove to be an important foundation we build on when it comes to actually making the picking motions:

Pick Grip

Getting familiar with the many ways to hold a guitar pick


Picking Motions

The Pickslanting Primer does not strictly specify which motion you should use for the examples we cover. So, how do you know which to use? For that, you can refer to our overview of common picking motions:

Picking Motion

An overview of the most common motions used in picking


Our best advice is to test all the available techniques with an open mind, and choose whichever one is working best.

Keep in mind that the motion that works best for you might not even be the one you want to use long-term. That’s okay. Your main goal is to become fluid and synchronized with any picking technique to start with.

Learning what it feels like to have dead-on high speed synchronization and perfectly accurate string changes is like a passport to learning other motions over time. The fastest route to establishing this passport is by using whichever motion is working best right now.

Downward Pickslanting

If the motion that works best is one of the downward pickslanting (upstroke escape) motions, we recommend starting with the Yngwie or Eric Johnson sections of the Primer:

Yngwie Malmsteen


Eric Johnson


Upward Pickslanting

Instead, if you have better initial results with an upward pickslanting (downstroke escape) motion like elbow motion, have a look at the Ardeshir Farah and John McLaughlin sections:

Strunz & Farah


John McLaughlin


Two-Way Pickslanting

We recommend moving on to the two-way pickslanting section of the Primer only after you’ve put in some time with one of the one-way sections listed above.

When you’re ready, move on to the Michael Angelo Batio section, the last part of the Primer, here:

Michael Angelo Batio


In Closing…

There’s a lot here, so don’t worry about trying to digest all of this at once. Block off a few chunks of time in your practice schedule now, and work through this material one bit at a time over the coming weeks.

Enjoy the Primer, and head to the forum with any questions that come up as you go through the material!